Our church is doing a fundraiser to give to the extremely poor across the world. They showed one of those videos and it really touched my heart. I’ve seen the type three hundred times before, but this time was different. It must have been the first time I’ve seen one since we’ve started adopting. Because this time, when I see the kids wearing flattened two-liters for shoes, when I see their naïve little eyes so filled with hope, when I see the hunger protruding from their little bellies…this time they are not anonymous kids. They are no longer nameless faces. They are MY kids. I mean literally, they could be my kids. I know that sounds far-fetched and I realize the chances of that being true are very, very slim…but when I look into their little eyes I feel like I’m looking right into my own child’s eyes.
You know the kind of video I’m talking about, right? The videos make us sad for a few moments, but then we turn the channel because it’s a half a world away and it’s uncomfortable to watch. Because if the people would just work and not be lazy they wouldn’t be stuck in this mess. Because there are new cars to buy, good sales at Best Buy, and savings to build. Because you’ve worked hard for your money and you want to enjoy it. Because it’s easy to pretend that it’s not REALLY happening. Because it’s Not Our Problem.
Or is it?
What if they are our children? I mean, not just my children because I am physically adopting two of the millions and millions, but what if they are your children too?
A favorite verse of adoptive families is James 1:27, which says “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”
But there’s more:
Proverbs 28:27– Whoever gives to the poor will not want, but he who hides his eyes will get many a curse.
Deut 15:7 – If there is a poor man among you, one of your brothers, in any of the towns of the land which the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart, nor close your hand to your poor brother; but you shall freely open your hand to him, and generously lend him sufficient for his need in whatever he lacks.
Luke 3:11– And [John the Baptist] would answer and say to them, “Let the man with two tunics share with him who has none, and let him who has food do likewise.”
Proverbs 29:7– The righteous is concerned for the rights of the poor; the wicked does not understand such concern.
1 John 3:17– But whoever has the world’s goods, and beholds his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?
I could keep going.
Look, we could debate anthropology and economics and racial and class issues. I don’t know why places like Africa and Haiti and Central Asia just can’t get ahead. That’s interesting to talk about. But as Christians, we are not called to figure out why it is happening or to cast judgement on those that are stuck in horrible situations. We are just called to love and give. And if you are not a religious type and not using Scripture as your motivation, those are still some pretty decent life rules, right?
It’s Christmas season and I hope you all have a great time with your families. I hope you get some nice things and I hope that you get to watch delight in the eyes of those you’ve given to. But please also think of the eyes you don’t see by the Christmas tree. Adopt a child through World Vision. Fund a loan for a third-world business person through Kiva. Let your child pick out a farm animal to give to a needy family so that they can start to earn an income. Examine your heart. Have you been stained by the world? Have you been hiding your eyes? Has your heart been hardened to the poor? Have you and your kids been caught in the comfortable bubble of American consumerism? Sometimes I still find myself there…that is one comfortable bubble. And I don’t think it’s at all wrong to enjoy it sometimes. But if you’re enjoying floating along in that bubble while you’re hiding your eyes and closing your hands, what better time to realign your priorities than the celebration of being given the most precious gift of all?